The model’s guide

Working as a professional fashion, beauty and commercial model for over a decade, with countless castings, shoots, shows and photographs under my belt, I decided it was time to share my knowledge and experience with new and aspiring models. Nearly everyone that enters into the world of modeling does so with no experience, no guidance and no awareness of what to expect. I am endeavoring to change that and change the way people think about models and the modeling industry.

I spent the last two years perfecting The Model’s Guide, my book on modeling, not only basing it upon my own experience, but also combining the knowledge and experience of photographers, makeup artists, stylists and other models to comprise the most comprehensive guide ever written on the modeling industry.

It was released last month in both paperback and electronic format, and I have included a little excerpt below.

Model: Rachel Woods

What sort of look should a model have?

There are no specifications to what makes a good model, there are only guidelines. For some types of modeling there is ideal height and measurement restrictions, for other types of modeling there are criteria such as having clear skin, good teeth and shiny hair. Being a model is not about having stunning good looks; most models can actually look very plain in person. What is essential is looking good on camera and being photogenic.  All models must have confidence and should possess an air about them that if they were passed on the street people might look twice. They should radiate poise or grace, appear to be comfortable in their own skin and ideally have a striking yet natural look. The best attribute a model can have is their personality; a model could be the most attractive person in the world, but if they have a bad attitude they will not get work. The ideal model look simply depends upon current trends and the look the designer, client or casting director is going for; if a model does not get a job, it is simply because their look did not fit the brief.

Model: Rachel Woods

What attributes should a model have?

It is a common misconception that modeling is all about the physical look, image or beauty, and therefore the personality and emotional aspects are often overlooked. Of course if someone is blessed physically by having good genetics and a fast metabolism then that makes life easier, however having a good personality is equally important. This means being easy to work with, not complaining, taking the daily competition of modeling in stride, being open to and resilient to criticism, and above all having the patience of a saint.

Modeling can be tough; since you are constantly being judged and criticized on the way you look, it takes a strong character to be able to succeed in this high pressured environment. A model needs to have stamina, endurance and a certain level of fitness to enable them to trek around on long days of castings, cope with the pain of holding difficult and uncomfortable poses for long periods of time, wear high heels, have their hair pulled and tugged, deal with the stress of international travel and handle constant rejection.

As well as having the emotional strength to cope with all the rejections and criticisms, they must also deal with jealously of some who resent the “dream” lifestyle that modeling can offer.

A model also needs to have excellent common sense and be able to adapt to any situation.

Model: Rachel Woods; Photographer: NYC Fashion and Beauty

Know your stuff!

Okay, so you think you have the look and personality to be a model, but do you have knowledge and common sense? As a model there are two main things you need to know about; yourself and the fashion industry in general.

It seems strange to think that you need to know things about yourself; however you should instantly be able to remember:

  • The phone number of your agency (or your own mobile)
  • Your measurements (ideally in UK, European and US sizes)
  • Photographers you have worked with. (It is a good idea to write the name and year of shoot on the back of pictures)

Your knowledge of the fashion industry will grow and evolve, however since it is so huge you don’t need to know everything about it. Simply an understanding and familiarity with fashion designers, big industry names, latest trends and top models can be extremely useful. It helps to regularly buy magazines, go to clothes shows, wander round the shops, or watch fashion TV to keep your knowledge fresh, new and accurate.

You will find that you often have free time, whether it’s waiting at a casting or traveling around, so use these opportunities to do something constructive; educate yourself and keep your brain active.

Model: Rachel Woods; Photographer: NYC Fashion and Beauty

It is also important, if you have a casting and you are not sure exactly who the designer is, to look it up online before you go there. There is nothing more embarrassing than the client asking what you think of their designs, or ‘have you seen our website?” and looking like a lemon, with no answer to give them. Be educated and give them an intelligent answer that will make you stand out.

If you have a shoot, do your homework before you get there. Photographer’s often have a particular, distinct style, so practice any poses you think might be appropriate.

Always do your research. If you don’t understand something, ask! Industry professionals are always willing to help and pass on their own wisdom. You should know your profession. An electrician knows about wires, a carpenter knows about their tools, so as a model it’s your job to know about fashion!

I hope you enjoy reading the book!


The Model's Guide: Everything you need to know about the world of professional modelling

The Model’s Guide: Everything you need to know about the world of professional modelling

Rachel Woods

Rachel Woods has worked as a professional fashion, beauty and commercial model for over a decade, with countless castings, shoots and shows under her belt. She has now decided the time is right to share her experience with a generation of new, aspiring models by writing The Model's Guide: Everything you need to know about the world of professional modelling. Her website is

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